City denies writing off R15.6 Billion worth of debt

City of Johannesburg spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane.

DA mayoral candidate for Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba said the DA was deeply concerned about the City’s decision to write off more than R15,6 billion worth of debt when a large proportion of that debt could have been collected. Mashaba said, “Failure to collect billions owing to the City is a failure of governance and shows weak financial controls. The fact that some of the debt to be written off includes national and provincial government departments is a slap in the face of poor residents of Johannesburg who now face R15,6 billion less in the service delivery coffers.”

He said while it was a good thing to install prepaid meters in a bid to address long-standing residential defaulters, it was completely unacceptable that commercial and government debts be written off in one fell swoop. “The poorest of the poor suffer the most when a City fails to fulfil its statutory duty to protect its income stream,” said Mashaba.

The mayoral candidate added that the written-off revenue could have been invested in more houses, clinics, schools and vital infrastructure – and bring much-needed relief – but instead, commercial and government debtors are getting off scot-free.

However, in a scathing response, the City of Johannesburg spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane said the City has not taken a decision to write off R15.6 billion as alleged. “We find it irresponsible for anyone to thumb suck a figure and expect the City to clarify such. Similarly, there’s no debt owing to the City by national or provincial government that has been written off,” Modingoane said.

“It is sensationalist to say R15.6 billion would have been invested in clinics and houses when there is no such R15.6 billion written off.” He stated that residents of the City of Johannesburg must understand that while the City has not written off R15.6 billion, it does not mean that the City may not write off an irrecoverable debt in the future. Modingoane said this was a right exercised by governments, including metros, in line with regulations where the need arises. “Should there be a need in the future, this will be accordingly communicated,” he said.

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